Clean Power Worth $2.3 Trillion By 2020

China and India are already well positioned to reap a big portion of a potential $2.3 trillion surge in private investment in clean-energy projects in the G-20 nations, according to a new Pew Charitable Trusts report. The report, outlined in a press release, says the United States might also grab a hefty piece of the investment pie, too – if it adopts strong clean-energy policies.

Pew based its report on data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, projecting private investment in wind, solar, biomass/energy from waste, small hydro, geothermal and marine energy projects. Pew said the United States could attract $342 billion in clean power project investments over the next 10 years under an “enhanced clean energy scenario,” almost $100 billion more than the country would reap under the “business as usual scenario.”

Clean energy investment, Pew study

image via Pew Charitable Trusts

So, what are the policy distinctions between the two scenarios? Business as usual simply means “enacting no new climate or clean energy policies beyond those currently in effect,” Pew said. The enhanced scenario, meanwhile, assumes policies more aggressive than those pledged at the Copenhagen conference in 2009, which Pew considered a middle-ground scenario.

Of course, there’s more to clean-energy investment than its economic value. There’s the matter of a globe at risk from climate change. And on that count, Pew said, “only the enhanced clean energy policy scenario is consistent with the absolute reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 that scientists suggest are necessary to avoid global warming in excess of 2 degrees Celsius.”

“Global Clean Power: A $2.3 Trillion Opportunity” is available online, both as nine-page executive summary and a complete report.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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